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Upper Division Course Offerings

Fall 2015

ETS 303-1 Reading and Writing Fiction  

TTH 2:00-3:20 PM

Instructor: Jules Gibbs

All creative disciplines depend on the study and imitation of the particular art form for mastery of their elements.  In this course you will read and analyze a number of short stories in order to deepen your understanding of a variety of concerns in storytelling including voice, style, description, story, and character.  We will attempt to answer the question: how do authors generate emotions, interest, and power in creative texts?  You will be required to display an understanding of these issues by producing creative and analytical responses to the texts studied.  Possible authors include Flannery O'Connor, Alice Munro, James Joyce, James Baldwin, Anton Chekhov, and Raymond Carver.

ETS 304-1 Reading and Writing Poetry

TTH 9:30-10:50 AM

Instructor: Sarah Harwell

T. S. Eliot said that minor poets borrow while great poets steal. From classical antiquity to the present, poets have always learned their trade by imitating other poets. They have always pursued their individual talent by absorbing, assimilating, and in some cases subverting the lessons of the traditions they inherit. In this class, we will read and imitate poems from well-known poets. We’ll examine each poet closely, sympathetically, and predatorily. That is, we will read like aspiring writers, looking for what we can steal. We will deepen our understanding of a variety of poetic devices, such as diction, image, music, and metaphor. We will attend to each poet’s stylistic and formal idiosyncrasies, techniques, and habits, and then write poems that show who we have read and how well we have read them. You will be required to display an understanding of these issues by producing creative and analytical responses to the work studied.

ETS 305-2 Critical Analysis:
Literary Urban Studies

MW 12:45-2:05 PM

Instructor: Kevin Morrison

This course provides an introduction to the debates, theories, and methodologies associated with the spatial turn in literary and cultural studies. Rather than focusing solely on temporal categories and chronologies, this body of critical work has called our attention to and demonstrated the importance of geography and topography—especially a trifecta of analytical categories (space, place, and landscape)—to literary and cultural analysis. Over the semester, we will sample approaches to urban social environments culled from a number of different disciplines; compare and contrast these theories and methodologies by identifying their differences and commonalities; evaluate their respective stakes and their implications for literary and cultural analysis; and utilize them as means of examining several different nineteenth- and twentieth-century cities as they were inhabited by historical subjects and, in literature and art, by various character types, including the flâneur and the sweated worker.

ETS 305-3 Critical Analysis:
Performance Studies

TTH 11:00 AM-12:20 PM

Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan

The argument that our identities are fashioned or performed out of complex cultural scripts owes some of its most profound debts to the discipline of performance studies. This course aims to provide both an overview of the history of this field and an opportunity for you to experiment with its critical practices. We will trace the emergence of performance studies out of mid twentieth-century sociology, linguistics, and anthropology, studying the ways in which it both informed and was informed by political, sexual, and other revolutions and experiments of the 1960s and 1970s. We will examine how performance studies defined itself in response to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and to critical moments (from the 1990s to the present) of intense public debate over identity and difference, license and prohibition, pleasure and trauma. Reading from key foundational texts (while exploring the field’s own unique relationship to questions of canonicity and marginality), we will learn to think and write about the meanings of performance and to recognize and annotate our own roles as performers of cultural critique and critical writing.

ETS 310-1 Literary Periods:
U.S. Southern Literature in the Twentieth Century

MW 2:15-3:35 PM

Instructor: Susan Edmunds

In this course, we will read fiction written in and/or about the U.S. South, concentrating on the period beginning with the “Southern Renaissance” in the late twenties and thirties and going up through the present. The course will begin with a brief look at literary antecedents in works by Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Chesnutt, before focusing on fiction of the twentieth century. Class discussion will focus on the complex relationship between aesthetic form and sociohistorical crisis, struggle, and change. We will examine aesthetic modes and categories associated with the gothic, the grotesque, the folk, and the vernacular and on “Southern” character types ranging from white trash and the black folk to the doomed aristocrat, the conjure woman, the sexual queer, and the freak.  We will relate these aesthetic and literary concerns to larger patterns of historical disruption and development. Throughout the semester, we will also attend to recent critical efforts to understand the production and academic study of Southern U.S. literature in a global context. Writers and texts include: Caldwell, Tobacco Road; Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!; Wright, Black Boy; McCullers, The Ballad of the Sad Café; McCarthy, Child of God ; and Choi, The Foreign Student.

ETS 310-2 Literary Periods:
American Beginnings

MW 3:45-5:05 PM

Instructor: Patricia Roylance
When, where, and with what does “American literature” begin? At stake in this question are our basic assumptions about what Americanness is, as well as our basic assumptions about what literature is. Who gets to be called an “American” and what counts as “literature”? Should Native American oral stories be part of the canon of American literature? How about the letters from Spanish and French explorers describing the Americas to their royal backers? How about William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which takes place on an island obviously inspired by the New World? This class will read a variety of early American writings, including traditionally revered accounts of the founding and early days of the British settlements at Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Jamestown. But we will also draw from a more expansively defined “early America,” potentially encompassing Native America, the colonial Americas (Spanish, French, British, and Dutch), and the writers in Europe who were responding to the idea of the New World (new to them, at least).

Pre-1900 course

ETS 310-3 Literary Periods:
British Modernism

TuTh 2:00-3:20 PM

Instructor: Chris Forster

The turn of the twentieth century was an especially turbulent and provocative time in art and literature. It was a period that saw the height of British Imperial power, of the “Great War,” and of rapid technological change (including the emergence of film as a major cultural form). This environment produced the art and literature frequently called “modernist.”  This class will focus on this period (roughly, 1890-1930) and the authors and literature of the British Isles (and a little beyond). We will begin with late nineteenth-century precursors (including writers like Wilde, Mallarme, and Flaubert), before spending the majority of the semester reading some of the major works of the first half of the twentieth century in both poetry and fiction, and maybe some film. We will end by examining the aftermath of this moment, looking at work sometimes called “postmodernist.” Writers we will study include Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, W. H. Auden, and others, as well as key manifestoes and other documents of the period. Assignments include two major essays and shorter regular written responses.

ETS 315-1 Ethnic Literatures and Cultures:

U.S. Immigrant Literature in the Twentieth Century

MW 3:45-5:05 PM

Instructor: Susan Edmunds

This course focuses on fiction associated with successive waves of U.S. immigration from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The course begins with stories of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Irish, Russian Jewish, Chinese, and Japanese immigration. We then turn to a selection of contemporary novels and short stories written in response to changing patterns of immigration following 1965 legislation that overturned racial and geographic quotas and exclusions imposed by Congress in 1924. This section of the course foregrounds fiction written in response to Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Antiguan, and Dominican immigration in the second half of the twentieth century. Throughout the course, we will attend to literary forms and tropes developed within and across immigrant traditions during a century in which the United States’ own rise to neo-imperial dominance has had a decisive effect on when and why specific groups immigrate, as well as on the stories they tell. Writers and texts include Farrell, Chicago Stories; Cahan, Yekl;  Chu, Eat a Bowl of Tea; Lee, Native Speaker; Kincaid, Lucy; Lê, The Gangster We Are All Looking For; Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth; and Diaz, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

ETS 315-2 Ethnic Literatures and Cultures:

The Holocaust in American Literature

TuTh 9:30-10:50 AM

Instructor: Harvey Teres

This course will explore the moral, religious, and artistic challenges faced by American writers who have represented the Holocaust and its aftermath in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.  Students will begin by reading a historical account of the Holocaust and several perspectives on the response to the Holocaust in America, especially among American Jews.  We will spend the rest of the semester reading literary representations of the Holocaust and its aftermath.  Texts will include Philip Roth’s “Eli, the Fanatic” and The Ghost Writer; Bernard Malamud’s “The Last Mohican” and “Lady of the Lake”; Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird; Cynthia Ozick’s “The Pagan Rabbi,” “The Shawl,” and “Rosa”; Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated; Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem; Art Spiegelman’s Maus I and Maus II; Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution; Nathan Englander’s “The Tumblers”; and selected poetry by Jacob Glatstein, Charles Reznikoff, W.D. Snodgrass, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Anthony Hecht, Elie Wiesel, and others. 

Meets with JSP

ETS 315-3 Ethnic Literatures and Cultures:
Narratives of Ethnicity and Race in a Comparative Framework
TuTh 11:00 AM-12:20 PM
Instructor: Carol Fadda-Conrey
This course will offer students a comparative survey of literary texts from various U.S. minority traditions, including African American, Arab American, Latino/a, Asian American, and Native American literature from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students will build on the course’s comparative framework by creating links between the various texts, focusing on thematic depictions as well as theoretical approaches that connect these writers and their works to a common minority experience in the U.S. as well as in transnational contexts. The course also aims to help students delineate the various historical, political, religious, racial, and ethnic factors that distinguish these minority groups not only from a white majority, but also from each other, at the same time emphasizing the variety of voices and experiences that diversify the makeup and cultural identity of each group as represented through its literature. Some of the writers included on the syllabus are W. E. B. Du Bois, Sherman Alexie, Junot Díaz, Suheir Hammad, and John Okada.

ETS 320-1 Authors:
Hollywood Directors of the 1950s
TTh 2:00-3:20 PM

Film Screening: T 7:00-9:45 PM
Instructor: TBA
The 1950s was a decade of socio-cultural change in the U.S. after World War II and industrial reorganization in Hollywood after the Paramount Case of 1948, leading to the eventual break-up of the old studio system. This course is both a survey of the major Hollywood directors of the era, and also a survey of critical, theoretical, and historical methods for studying film authorship. Beginning with “the auteur theory” in its French and Anglophone conceptualizations, we will move from questions of signature style and personal vision to period-specific politics of gender and sexual identity. We will then look at directors in the contexts of postwar U.S. culture and ideology more broadly, from mid-century modernity to consumerism and popular art, from social problem discourses to the anti-Communist “Red Scare” of the HUAC period. Finally, we will consider the historical-material conditions of working in the American motion picture industry, as Hollywood directors adapted to a horizontally integrated mode of production, distribution, and exhibition; competition with television through color and widescreen technologies; economic constraints; and weakening censorship regulations from the Production Code Administration. The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required.
Film and Screen Studies course  

ETS 325-1 History and Varieties of English

TTH 11:00 AM-12:20 PM
Instructor: Patricia Moody
This course aims to provide students with as much knowledge as possible, as interactively as possible, of the basic structures of the English language and representations of its history.  Equally important, the course aims to develop critical awareness of contemporary language issues and the complex ways in which language embeds attitudes.

ETS 330-1 Theorizing Meaning and Interpretation:
Queer Theory/Queer Culture

TTH 2:00-3:20 PM

Instructor: Don Morton

It is safe to say that in all societies throughout history, same sex sexual practices have not only been a possibility but also a reality. Thus the question is not about the existence of homosexuality, but about how different societies think about it.  The balance between acceptance and rejection of homosexuality is not static, but changes over time, as ideas and attitudes change.  Thus, homosexuality must be seen in historical context. Few would have thought a decade ago that we would be talking about gay marriage in a national debate and that acceptance of homosexuality would have "progressed" that far (if it is indeed “progress”), yet it was only a few short years ago (1998) that Matthew Shepherd, a university student, was brutally beaten and left to die tied to a fence in Wyoming. This course investigates how (homo)sexuality is understood from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including the traditional moralistic perspective, the medical and psychoanalytic view, Marxism, poststructuralism/ postmodernism,  and other perspectives. A central question, of course, will be how it is that ideas such as “gay” and "queer," which once were labels used to discredit homosexuals, have been redefined as positive rather than negative terms.

ETS 350-1 Reading Nation and Empire:  Cinema and Ireland                               
MW 5:15-6:35 PM

Film Screening: M 7:00-9:45 PM
Instructor: Matthew Fee
Although images of Ireland and the Irish have been present from cinema’s earliest days, it is only in recent decades that the Republic of Ireland has itself focused on developing a national film industry. This course examines that central paradox, as well as a variety of concerns that have proven dominant to Ireland’s representation in film: gender, sexuality, race, class, family, religion, rurality, immigration, globalization, political violence, historical trauma, and the supernatural. From silent films and documentaries through art house independents and popular genre films (e.g. romantic comedies, musicals, and horror), we will investigate Irish filmmaking throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will trace Ireland’s complicated support of cinema from independence through modernization, and from the economic boom of the Celtic Tiger years through the collapse of the late aughts and its subsequent age of austerity. In addition to studying the effects of Irish nationalism, British colonialism, Hollywood dominance, and European integration on filmic depictions of Irishness, we will also map the dynamic relationship between cinema and the visual archive of Ireland that has been constructed through tourism, television, popular culture, political cartoons, art, and photography.
The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required.

Film and Screen Studies course

ETS 360-1 Reading Gender and Sexualities:
What Was Sex? Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the History of Sexuality

TTH 12:30-1:50 PM

Instructor: Dorri Beam

Before the relatively recent invention of heterosexuality and homosexuality in the late nineteenth century, what was sex?  What did it include and exclude?  How did people understand their intimate relations?  Into what categories did people fit their self-stylizations of gender, affect, and pleasure?  Did they have an idea of sexuality as an identity? As something stable and belonging to them? This class explores how sexuality was socially organized and subjectively experienced differently in the past.  We will use literature of the American nineteenth century to explore these questions while also dipping into other discourses such as health reform, marriage advice, utopian manifestos, and sex radicalism; exploring alternative practices such as polygamy and celibacy; and studying texts that feature African American and Native American resistant formations of marriage and family. Texts are likely to include selections from bachelor literature, urban porno-gothic, frontier fiction, bohemian literature, and short stories and novels by Julia Ward Howe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Bret Harte, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Frank Norris, Pauline Hopkins, Zitkala Sa, and Sui Sin Far.

Meets with WGS 360 and QSX 300

Pre-1900 course


ETS 360-2 Reading Gender and Sexualities:
Gender and Sexuality in Asian American Literature

TTH 3:30-4:50 PM

Instructor: Naomi Edwards
This course examines a wide range of Asian American fiction and film to consider the ways in which gender and sexuality inform and complicate experiences of racialization and belonging. Through analysis of literary and pop cultural representations, we will explore the shifting meanings of Asian/American identity in U.S. history and culture, including constructions of Asian American masculinities, U.S. militarism’s effects on Asian and Asian American women, postcolonialism, and queer diasporas.  We will engage with such questions as: How do gender and sexuality structure discourses of nationalism? How does U.S. cultural and military influence across the globe impact processes of racialization and gendering? What do marginalized genders and sexualities bring to bear on our understandings of immigration and diaspora? What strategies of resistance do these authors offer amidst the constraints of national and sexual identity formation?
Meets with WGS 360

ETS 401-2: Advanced Poetry Workshop

M 12:45-3:35 PM

Instructor: Chris Kennedy 

In this class, you will develop your existing skills by reading the work of published poets, writing a poem every other week, and critiquing one another’s poems. You will revise three of the poems you write, with the ultimate goal of producing three poems you have worked on hard enough to consider "finished" by workshop standards. This won't be as easy as it sounds. I will expect you to do the work of a poet, which is demanding. Revising may range from minor tinkering to wholesale changes or even writing an entirely new poem in the process of trying to improve an earlier poem.

ETS 403-1 Advanced Fiction Workshop

Th 12:30-3:20

Instructor: Dana Spiotta

This class is for fiction writers with workshop experience.  We will work on writing and reading stories.  In class we will discuss student work as well as work by contemporary writers.   We will focus on useful critique, significant revision, and close reading.

ETS 405-1 Topics in Medicine and Culture:
Medicine in Literature and Film

W 4:15-7:15 PM

Instructor: Deirdre Neilen
The relationship between artistic creation and medicine will be explored through the study of novels, film, short stories, poetry, and essays about medical situations, characters, and themes. Thematic areas to be examined include the relationship between truth and confidentiality, the hospital as toxic and therapeutic environment, relationships between health care workers and patients, illness as metaphor and as reality, and the experience of disease.

Meets in Room 3508 Setnor Academic Building, SUNY Upstate campus, 766 Irving Ave



ETS 410-1 Forms and Genres:
Realism’s Others

TuTh 9:30-10:50 AM

Instructor: Claudia Klaver

When most people think of the Victorian novel, they think of "realism" (even if they are not precisely sure what that is).  For many nineteenth-century novelists, however, the formal literary conventions of realism were too limiting, and their narrative projects demonstrate their frustration with realism's strictures, as well as with the values, priorities, and definitions of what counted as "real" that inhered in realist conventions.  In this course we will examine the conventions of Victorian realism, including the epistemological, cultural, and ideological assumptions behind those conventions.   We will examine these conventions first through critical writings on realism and through canonical Victorian novels that simultaneously rely upon such conventions and push the boundaries of those conventions.  For the remainder of the course, we will examine the assumptions of those conventions from the perspective of novelists who self-consciously rejected or revised those conventions in the name of alternative sets of values and visions of "reality."  Texts will include novels by Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, H. Rider Haggard, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, and Arthur Conan Doyle.  Students will write three six to eight-page papers and give one formal oral presentation. There will also be regular in-class writings and reading quizzes and occasional Blackboard assignments.

Pre-1900 course


ETS 420-1  Cultural Production and Reception:
Christopher Columbus

MW 2:15-3:35 PM

Instructor: Silvio Torres-Saillant

This course sets out to examine some of the American cultural history formed around the emergence of Christopher Columbus—a mariner who never got anywhere near these North American shores and who sailed under the Spanish flag—as an icon of Americanness. The milestones of that cultural history include a voluminous body of writings extolling the virtues of Columbus and a sustained government commitment to commemorating the Genoese sailor, as reflected in the naming of the country’s capital after Columbus and the promotion of Columbia as personification of the United States of America.
Pre-1900 course

ETS 420-2 Cultural Production and Reception:

TuTh 2:00-3:20 PM

Instructor: Patricia Moody

The Middle Ages remain present in modern consciousness, both through scholarship and through popular media such as stage and film, video and reenactment games, poster art, television, and print media.  This course investigates responses to the Middle Ages across all periods since a sense of the mediaeval first began to develop.  It is concerned, then, with creative reception of the Middle Ages, including attempts to 'reproduce' the Middle Ages, as well as with both academic and political-ideological reception of the Middle Ages.  In short, any particular iteration of the course may examine selections from across a broad historical and cultural spectrum. After an opening unit establishing foundational knowledge, we will examine 'historical' filmic representations of the high Middle Ages, concentrating partly on the twelfth century—the period from Henry II to Richard I to John—but we'll begin by examining a contemporary film. Alongside the sociopolitical, we will examine the rise to power of Christianity, from Crusades to Inquisition, and including a case study of Joan of Arc.  

Pre-1900 course

ETS 420-3 Cultural Production and Reception:
Nineteenth-Century American Literature Redux

TuTh 3:30-4:50 PM

Instructor: Dorri Beam

Redux means “brought back or revived,” from the Latin “to lead again.” This course takes as its subject matter four American literary classics from the nineteenth century and their remaking in new, twenty-first century films and novels, allowing you to read some great books while getting a fresh perspective on enduring American issues, from the legacies of American idealism and democracy to the perils of extremism, imperialism, and racism.  Mat Johnson’s Pym (2011) returns to Edgar Allan Poe’s only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, in a hilarious send-up of Poe’s racial politics, U.S. imperialism, and a secret world at the South Pole. Thoreau’s Walden and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild (1996, and Sean Penn film, 2007)) allow us to examine the legacy of the American impulse to be alone in the wilderness. Geraldine Brooks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning March (2006) brings the moral uncertainty of war to bear on the domestic idyll of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women by tracking the father who left to enlist in the Union army. Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln (2012), provides the opportunity to go Behind the Scenes with African American author Elizabeth Keckley, whose memoir of her years in the White House as Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker brings us full circle to race and politics, in her day and ours.

Pre-1900 course

ETS 440-1 Theorizing History and Culture:
21st-Century Cinema: Hollywood and Beyond
T Th 3:30-4:50 PM
Film Screening: W 7:00-9:45 pm
Instructor: TBA
What are the ways that we can begin to think critically about Hollywood cinema in the twenty-first century? What does it mean to approach the present as history in the making? What do the theoretical models we have for analyzing the cinema of the past offer us for understanding cinema in this more immediate moment, and what new models need to be developed? This course intends to raise potential answers to these questions. We will operate from the premise that films of the new millennium require as much attention as any text from what we can now call “the first century of cinema,” if we are to comprehend the functions of Hollywood as an industry and its films as cultural productions. The foundations of this class are assembled from three core frameworks of cinema studies: aesthetics, ideology, and industry. Through these avenues of inquiry, we will deal with films in their multi-media and transnational contexts to look at what has changed and what remains the same in the institution of Hollywood today. The weekly screenings scheduled for this course are required.
Film and Screen Studies course

ETS 440-2 Theorizing History and Culture:
Violence on the Early Stuart Stage

TTH 12:30-1:50 PM

Instructor: Stephanie Shirilan

Violence has a long history on the Western stage, from the “obscene” (literally, off-stage) horrors of Greek tragedy to the grotesqueries of medieval mystery plays. The enduring Whig version of this history is that dramatic violence reaches its peak under the Stuarts as an expression of the corruption of Jacobean and Caroline culture, leading (causally as well as chronologically) to the closure of the theaters under the Puritans. We will put this history to the test in our reading of a selection of plays by Shakespeare, Tourneur, Middleton, and Ford, which we will precede with a sampling of late Tudor revenge drama (likely Titus Andronicus) in order to better observe key shifts in the aesthetics and use of dramatic violence in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Our focus will be on placing these shifts in historical context, considering the ways in which they are illuminated by contemporary debates and developments in domestic and foreign policy (religious war, imperial projects), judicial practice, and psychological theory–especially concerning the psychology of performance and spectatorship.

Pre-1900 course



ETS 494-1 Research Practicum

TH 3:30-6:20 PM

Instructor: Crystal Bartolovich

This one-credit course introduces students to the scope and demands of an Honors and/or Distinction project in ETS. Enrollment is by invitation to participate in the Distinction Program, and/or Honors Program, only. In five formal seminar meetings, we will discuss choosing a mentor, developing a suitable topic with engaging research questions, compiling a bibliography, reading critically, and taking notes effectively. In addition to the seminars, you will have individual meetings outside of class with peers, your advisor, and the workshop coordinator to lay a firm foundation for writing your thesis in the spring, when you will also enroll in the second part of this workshop, ETS 495: Thesis Writing Workshop.